Agro-Energy in the 21st Century

Latin America has recently instigated a dramatic expansion of agro-energy production as a strategy to reduce dependence on petroleum, promote agricultural growth and mitigate the effects of climate change. What are the impacts of this expansion of biodiesel and biofuel crops on local livelihoods, environments and biodiversity? To find answers to this and other related questions, scientists from the Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability have established a program called “Agro-Energy in the 21st Century.” The program introduces a systems approach to assess the impacts and possible interventions associated with biodiesel and biofuel production.

The systems approach involves the following components:

  • Research will focus on the drivers and outcomes of converting land for use in the production of agro-energy, specifically the ecological, social, agronomic and economic issues related to energy production.
  • Education components will focus on building human and institutional capacity to assist in planning and policymaking.
  • Outreach will communicate the research results to governments and civil society.
  • Monitoring will establish centers to collect information and analyze relevant socio-environmental indicators.

This project is lead by Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez of the Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability and Christine Padoch of the New York Botanical Garden.